THE skies above Britain have dimmed. The nation's other royal family has decamped to Los Angeles, robbing the UK of two of its brightest stars in the process. Yes, David and Victoria Beckham finally arrived in the city of angels this week to begin their new life in the States.
It's the American dream, isn't it? Rags to riches. Or in this case, riches to, well, even more riches.
David Beckham has, according to every male I know, sold out and given in to his wife's demands by signing a 128 million deal for LA Galaxy, so that Posh can trip along Rodeo Drive pouting from behind her enormous fringe and looking a bit beefy next to the locals. We all know who wears the sarong in that relationship.
Now the celebrity duo are causing quite a storm in LA, partly because no-one quite knows who they are. Plastic surgeons' waiting rooms and wheatgrass bars across Beverly Hills are abuzz with talk of the famous couple.
"Isn't she the Spice Girl who didn't sing but did a lot of pointing?"
"No, silly, she's that angry chick who presents the Weakest Link. And he used to play sucker for Manchester Universe."
But the fame-hungry pair are setting the record straight with a media guerrilla attack designed to ensure that everyone in LA knows exactly who they are and just how important they are.
On Monday, the NBC special, Coming To America: Victoria Beckham - a reality show that follows the family's move to the US - will air. Meanwhile, the next issue of W magazine features a cover story on the pair, with a set of very stylish and rather racy shots (look out for Becks in a teeny, tiny pair of white knickers).
"The Beckhams' arrival is causing quite a stir with the media in LA but to be honest I think it will all die down very quickly," says Ellis Cashmore, author of Beckham.
"It's curiosity more than anything. I have friends in LA who want to know who on earth this pair are and why they're so huge across the globe. They're not quite sure what the fuss is all about with them, and football just isn't that big over there, so I think that they'll have a hard time staying as A-list as they've been used to. It won't be long before LA loses interest."
Such shoddy treatment of our Posh and Becks is surely sacrilege, but whatever happens to them stateside, we on this side of the Atlantic are a loyal bunch. From the hideously expensive shopping to celebrity hotspots and the hottest parties, our fascination with Lord and Lady Becks will ensure we follow their every move. Here's our guide to where the Beckhams will be doing all their seeing - and being seen - in LA.
VICTORIA'S school-marm-on-steroids look isn't all that LA.
"From the skyscraper heels to the corsets and pencil skirts, she always looks so uncomfortable," says Paula Reed, the style director at Grazia magazine and a judge on Project Catwalk.
"The LA look is very kicked back - very different from Posh's look. But I think that she will try to make some changes to her style. She's been asking Katie Holmes for advice and she's rumoured to be trying to get stylist Rachel Zoe to help her out as well."
And while the move has already prompted a new sun-kissed hairstyle for Victoria, who went for a blonde crop earlier this year, there are suggestions that the lady ain't for turning and that she'll continue to wedge herself into those binding dresses and crippling shoes.
"It's rumoured that her people have advised her not to change her polished look as it's all part of her persona, so she's taking her own hairdresser and stylist out there. I don't think she'll be ditching the six-inch heels just yet," says Justine Maybank, the celebrity editor of handbag.com.
But what about Becks? He's always been marginally more dignified than his other half in the style stakes, but how will his look fare in LA? "I predict a new haircut for his first game out there, a new colour perhaps. And I think he'll develop his link with the urban, but rich, hip-hop styling. Think Pharrell Williams meets 50 Cent," says Mark Baxter, author of The Fashion of Football.
For Becks, his store of choice will probably be the by-appointment-only menswear store Bijan, the most expensive shop in the world, where the average customer is reputed to spend $100,000 in a single visit. And for her ladyship, it has to be Rodeo Drive, where Victoria's favourite designer, Roberto Cavalli, has a huge store.
THERE'S nothing Posh and Becks loved more than spilling out of the famous London Ivy restaurant after a hearty meal of mineral water and rocket, so one would guess that the LA branch of the eatery will be their first stop. Of course, if they're missing home, they might want to sip on an imported Boddingtons in the Cat and Fiddle English pub. However, the bar to be seen in is the Sky Bar, while the famous Gold's Gym is the prime spot to pump some serious iron.
Victoria may be flying her favourite crimper over to LA with her, but if she's ever caught out on Rodeo Drive with an unfortunate kink situation, Jose Eber is the man to visit. A TV personality in his own right, his opulent Beverly Hills salon attracts celebrity customers including Cher, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbra Streisand, Meg Ryan and Farrah Fawcett.
THE Beckhams understand that, since she is essentially talentless and he is well on his way to being over the hill, networking is the only way that they'll survive as celebrities, and they've certainly been putting in the groundwork when it comes to air kissing with the LA elite.
"They're really good friends with Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes, of course, then there's Jennifer Lopez, whom Posh helped style for the Golden Globes, as well as Eva Longoria and P Diddy," says Maybank, of handbag.com. "Their PR machine has gone into overdrive."
And of course, there's all the LA Galaxy players and all the LAGs (LA Galaxy players' wives and girlfriends). Victoria can swap diet tips with swimsuit model Shannon Foster, the girlfriend of midfielder Cobi Jones, and Leah Imperatore, defender Chris Albright's wife. And it's likely that Becks might get in with team captain Landon Donovan, and Posh with Donovan's wife, Bianca Kajlich.
IN LA, there is no task that is too small to hire someone else to do for you. From dog psychics to cellulite pummellers, there's a reason that expats find themselves muttering "only in LA".
Posh has already hired British interior designer Kelly Hoppen to kit out her new home (including a 250,000 wardrobe), but there's always room for minions in the Beckhams' world, and no doubt Posh will be hiring staff like there's no tomorrow. Anyone who's anyone in LA needs a life coach, and Laurie Sheppard specialises in "career strategising for women".
Assuming she knows how to type, Victoria can visit www.domystuff.com, an LA based business where you can post absolutely any chore that requires doing.
CHAT shows are everything in the US, and Victoria has already blagged her way on to the Jay Leno show. But keeping up the hype isn't going to be easy.
"There's been so much of a buzz surrounding the Beckhams' arrival in LA that it's really a bit of an anti-climax now that the time has arrived," says celebrity blogger Perez Hilton.
"The W shoot makes a big statement, but I'm not sure it's the right one. The average American woman can't really relate to Victoria. She's not a girl next door like Jennifer Aniston, and even when she's trying to be fashionable, she just looks like a hooker."
However Posh understands the power of Perez and his bitchy blog, and has already been for a latte with him. "Yes, I've met Victoria and I was quite surprised to find that she's pretty funny, and she does laugh at herself," he says. "But to be honest, they're a bit of a freak show, aren't they?"
THE SPORTS CIRCUIT
POSH clearly knows that to truly fit in with the LA scene you have to be a sports fan, and being seen in the front row of an LA Lakers basketball game is as important as being seen at the hottest club in town.
Rod Stewart, Steven Spielberg and Jennifer Lopez have already snapped up LA Galaxy season tickets, but if they get tired of footie, the gruesome twosome can join Jack Nicholson and Leonardo DiCaprio courtside at a Lakers game, the number one destination for celebrity spotting and schmoozing in LA.
Tips for the Beckhams From Lorne Cousin
DEAR DAVID AND VICTORIA
WELCOME to Los Angeles. I am writing to offer you some advice which should put you in good stead for your move.
The first thing to do on arrival is develop an attitude. You can pick them up at the airport in the luggage claim area, just look out for the signs for "Oh My God" and "Awesome". You then need to pick up a car. An oversized SUV (4x4) is a prerequisite, and preferably one which guzzles fuel. In fact, why not get one each? Drive it aggressively and rudely honk your horn at other drivers at every opportunity. Remember, whatever you do, don't let anyone out of a junction in front of you.
OK, you now have wheels and an attitude: the other essentials for any self respecting Angelino include whitened teeth, Botox, a therapist and a dog - the smaller and yappier the better. Once you're really well established you will also get a therapist for the dog. Its tough being a dog out here, you know.
What else should you know? Oh yes, the nightlife. At the Sky Bar recently, I sat next to Nicole Richie and her cute little blonde pals. Don't make the mistake of asking one of the pals what she does for a living. "Nothing!" she will say in disgust. You might also see Paris or Lindsay with Nicole, (remember, first names only).
If you don't come across such local superstars, you might be lucky enough to meet their stylist, PA or hairdresser, all of whom will have assumed celebrity status themselves and will race ahead of you in the queue (call it a "line" here) for the club.
I suppose I should mention your fellow Brits, too. You may bump into Rod Stewart, Billy Connolly, Ross King, Robbie Williams - maybe even that piper guy who toured with Madonna. The last time I did the ex-pat thing was piping at a recent match between the Glasgow Rangers and LA Galaxy, your new team David. I was in the bar afterwards and rubbed shoulders with Tam from Partick who had emigrated to Santa Monica 50 years ago, and Bobby from the "Laguna Loyal Rangers Supporters Club" (I kid you not). "We cannae go home now son, no after all this time, the weather would kill me."
Finally, can I direct you to the mecca for all expats: the Monterey Highland Games. I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to judge the pipe band competitions there last week. You might even meet the Chieftain for the day, not a celeb like Billy or Rod as you might expect but, yes, you guessed it, Tam from Partick. He has done it for 20 years. As I said to Nicole as we waited in line for our stovies... Awesome.
• Lorne Cousin is currently living in LA as a full time musician.
"She's such a sweetie ... Her clothes are just amazing - she's so stylish. But the best thing about Victoria is that she's got this really funny British sense of humour. And David is so sweet. I'm very glad they've moved to LA. She's a great girl."
"She's a very nice lady. Very sweet but I've only met her once. We were wearing the same shoes."
"They're so iconic and so famous and so beautiful and everything about them is so fascinating to people. They're young and they're beautiful, so why not live life now? Live life to the fullest. I adore them. I think they are wonderful, wonderful people."
"We couldn't be happier that she walks among us in Los Angeles, because it significantly increases the odds that we can bump into her and convince her to go shopping with us so that we might better understand how her mind works."
GO FUG YOURSELF, FASHION BLOG
"To have a new superstar for us to obsess about and analyse would be a welcome relief. But for Victoria to become one of those people she will have to get some personality."
DEFAMER, CELEBRITY BLOG
"David is a really special man. Him coming over to the States is like the Beatles going over there. Football isn't that big in America at the moment but David is going to be a hero and bring the sport up to another level. I'll help him settle in. The US is my area. He's got my full support and the backing of all my people."
"I'd kick David Beckham's ass on any given day. I'd just pick the ball up and kick the shit out of the stadium, game over."
THE GAME, RAPPER
"I didn't know what to expect. I was expecting the worst but I was pleasantly surprised. She doesn't take herself too seriously. I went toe-to-toe with her and she's certainly no wallflower. She's very feisty."
PEREZ HILTON, CELEBRITY GOSSIP BLOGGER